People & Inspiration

In Focus: SEA Games Downhill Skating Medalist Jaime De Lange—Playing Hard, Working Harder

In Focus:  SEA Games Downhill Skating Medalist Jaime De Lange—Playing Hard, Working Harder

Tall and lean, his shaggy hair seemingly never out of place, it’s easy to imagine Jaime de Lange fitting into a leather race suit, slipping on one of those iconic longboarding helmets ready to shoot out into space, and then hopping onto a piece of wood, careening down a hill, and going as fast as he possibly could. Spaceflight seems safer than downhill skateboarding, really.

“I was 13 when I started downhill skating. It’s dangerous, for sure, but I think my parents were just happy that I found something that I was passionate about, but the risk is always there. My family is pretty religious, and they were always lighting candles at first. After showing them a couple videos of me nearly dying, they freaked out and I just stopped showing them stuff,” he tells ABS-CBN Lifestyle, laughing.

[related: In Focus: SEA Games Sambo Medalist Mark Striegl—Modern Warrior And Family Man]

But growing up with a dad, four brothers, and two sisters who all skate just made this seem like it was just second nature for Jaime to get on a board, too. In his own words, “Whether it’s getting on a scooter and going down a mountain, or snowboarding, or surfing, or skating, it’s interesting that people all over the world, no matter where they are, are drawn to doing stuff like that. There’s something about people that just wants to play.”

This is more than just play for Jaime, though. In his four years on tour as a competitive skater, Jaime’s steadily risen up the ranks and, on top of bagging the gold medal for the Philippine team in downhill skateboarding, he’s reached the top 15 in the world rankings, as well as become the number one in Asia.

Just like skating, being at the top only means that he can only keep going. With his schedule lined up for the rest of the year (11 races spread out over five continents!), Jaime is confident that he has plenty of room to grow into. “I’m going to use this as more of a launch pad than a nice career-ender. I’ll try to become world champion, or try to see a Filipino world champion. I’d love to have one of my boys on the Philippine team do it if I don’t, then I’ll retire, hopefully, with some money!”

This kind of schedule and life can only come with a genuine obsession with the sport, and Jaime puts it well: “Whenever I’m not able to skate, if I break my leg, for example, it’s awful. I wake up, and all I can think about is wanting to skate. A good way to describe it is that it’s taken over my life.” Winning the recently held SEA Games has definitely allowed Jaime this kind of freedom to let skating take over his life, granting him corporate sponsorships that allow him to train fulltime, travel where he wants, and compete where he wants: “It’s a big trade-up, and the legitimacy that comes with the SEA Games is a huge boost for us!”

[related: In Focus: Wushu Wunderkind Agatha Wong Looks Back On Her SEA Games Journey]

It's an incredibly rare opportunity for someone in a sport like Jaime's to have the support that he has, and with his future already mapped out so clearly for him, it might seem hard to keep the present in mind. Yet, he still knows what keeps him going: “Most people would see the hills that we skate and know that we’re going to go 120 kph into some hairpins, drift sideways, try to cross the finish line first and think, ‘You’re insane, right? You’re going to die.’ But no, it’s more fun than anything. You definitely wouldn’t do it if you didn’t love it. And I do, thank God.”

A love like that definitely deserves to be spread, and Jaime's been active at that, too: “I’d love to see the community grow with this hype. I want to see skate clinics and skate schools popping up. I’m starting one in the South every Sunday, it’s called Sunday Skate School. I want people to get involved, and to educate and empower anybody that wants to get into it. You give a kid a board, next thing you know they’re travelling, they’re empowered. They think, ‘If I could do an ollie, I could probably up my grades or go to high school.’ It’s an empowering thing, and I think it would be cool to use that.”

ALSO READ: In Focus: How BLACKPINK Inspired Ella Cruz' Fashion—And Passion

On Jaime: Shirt, Accel at SM; joggers, Coverse at SM; jacket, adidas

Produced by Camille Santiago / Photography by Vyn Radovan / Grooming by Muriel Vega Perez and Team MVP / Hair by Francis Guintu of Aveda Philippines / Styling by Aldrin Ramos | Special thanks to WeWork Philippines, Aveda, and Teriyaki Boy / Shot on location at WeWork Philippines, Menarco Tower, BGC

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